Mail News Service
Jamshedpur: Last August, the tempos or better known as auto rickshaws went off the roads. The auto rickshaw unions protested the district administration�s directives of not overloading of passengers especially of not carrying any passenger on the drivers� seat. A special condition too was issued whereby van and auto rickshaw operators were warned against ferrying excessive number of school students in their vehicles to ensure safety of life and limbs and of course, the vehicles.
Conditions of the three wheelers for road worthiness were also set. Another area of concern was the maintenance of updated documents pertaining to the vehicles. A concerted check by the district traffic department revealed oceans of lacunae for which owners and drivers were made to dish out fines.
Fines were paid but the faults persisted. When overloaded three and four wheelers came under the scanner, the auto rickshaw and van owners� unions took up illogical cudgels against logical curbs. The almost united demands of these operators included raising of monthly hire charges of school children to cut down on number of heads to be carried as also raising of passenger fares due to restriction on carrying of passengers.
These proposals against the district administration�s directives were made to break even with the costs of maintenance of vehicles and at that point of time, meeting the spiraling fuel prices.
As the ice could not be broken, auto rickshaws and school vans went off the city roads for a number of days that definitely inconvenienced the commuters. But the district administration rightly stuck to its points that were based on safety. The various auto rickshaw and van unions took out rallies and organized meetings to evoke public sympathy but overall, these did not tickle the sentiments of the people who were no doubt feeling the pinch of commuting problems.
Ultimately, when the thaw persisted, the auto rickshaw and van unions grudgingly realized that with an unrelenting administration, the income avenue was being battered. There were murmurs that were steadily turning into open grudges and bickering over an abstract move of unity.
Ultimately, the district authorities did relent but with strict caveats. A time limit was given to set the vehicle papers right. No passenger in three wheelers was to be carried on the drivers� seat. A maximum of four passengers were to be carried on seats provided at the back of the tempos. Music systems were to be discarded. A scope for a mild fare rise was given. Three wheelers were to remain in their marked parking zones from where passengers were to be picked up. Side bars were to be put on the right hand side of passenger space to prevent entry and exit from the wrong side.
Both parties agreed to the administration�s proposals. The three wheelers were back on the roads and commuters heaved a sigh of relief. The movement of these three wheelers became rational as did the parking system.
But as the adage goes, all good things have to come to an end. In the case of three wheelers, the good things ended too abruptly. The fare hike is being persisted with. But overloading is back again in vogue. �Anywhere-everywhere� stoppages to pick up or drop passengers are once again plaguing the traffic ethics including the sudden stops and turns. Overtaking from the left or at roundabouts and crossings are traditionally chronic ailments that require incessant baton treatment.
Auto drivers are known for looking left and right but not centre in their diabetic craving for more passengers in their already overloaded vehicles. There are auto drivers who load passengers on their seats while they themselves have a part of their buttocks sticking out making saner social creatures wonder how in hell such drivers manage the controls!
The district administration and the traffic police can certainly manage the control over these blatantly �perverse� drivers by giving them the works. And before concluding this cribbing episode, the driving licenses should be checked. More than a can of precious herrings are waiting to be �netted.�